Writers and the Piracy Debate

I know this is an issue that is never going to end but I am looking for people’s thoughts (specifically my blogging author buddies here) on the issue of unauthorised digital downloading (Piracy if you like). This article at The Guardian. It seems that the authors within the genre of science fiction are divided on this issue. Doctorow, Stross and Gaiman are not challenging or are actually embracing the dissemination of their work through these methods. Stross argued against DRM and had one publishing else remove it altogether.

I am with these guys on this one. Though I do not qualify as a successful writer (and hope to some day), I would see dissemination of my work as complimentary to its growing popularity. I used to sit on the fence where web piracy was concerned, wishing to be given a straight answer.

That was until I read this article by Ben Goldacre and later, this research piece in The Guardian.

Don’t get me wrong, theft is theft but what is clear in the article above is that web-savvy readers (or listeners or viewers for those who pirate music and films respectively) are using illegal downloads as a way to “try before you buy”. Filesharing is not ruining the music industry and may even be the only thing stopping it losing even more money through conventional means – we can also ask the question in this day and age whether the “Record Label” method is even viable any more but that is another debate.

Far too much is loaded in favour of the publishers, the record labels, the film distributors and these are the only products where you cannot get a refund if the item is not suitable (it is entertainment and if you you failed to feel entertained or gain the expected level of enjoyment from it, then it is not fit for purpose).

As writers, we embrace digital media by posting about our writing, providing samples and snippets, giving advice. Before the blogging age we would have been paid for this skill through newspapers and magazines. So – should I be charging people to access this blog? If they could see free samples elsewhere (even illegally), enjoyed them and then came here to pay for access, isn’t that a good thing?

I open the floor for discussion…

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3 thoughts on “Writers and the Piracy Debate

  1. Oops, I missed this post. Sorry.

    Well…ug. This is so hard.

    Basically, as a reader, I would just go else where to read if someone charged me to read their blog.

    There are just too many good (even great) blogs out there that offer their content for free. One thing I would pay for is convenience. I don’t like reading on the computer. If a blogger would assemble their best posts/discussions/stories/what-have-you in an easily downloadable format that I could load onto my Nook, then I would pay for that file.

    1. Oh, and have the file available on your blog, not another site where I will go to and then forget about coming back to your blog and reading more stuff. 😉

    2. Very good point actually! We can’t justify charging for a lot of stuff when -as you say- amateur content which is more passionate and engaging than the professional stuff.

      I think some elements of commercial entertainment are furiously opposed to digital media because they fear a loss of revenue. They do not see the bigger picture and how they can benefit by embracing it. I addressed this is a humorous way on 2012 and all that here

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